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January 22, 2012
• Stadio Comunale Silvio Piola, Novara
Referee: A. De Marco
• Attendance: 17000
And it finishes 3-0 to Milan, as Allegri's second half tactical decisions make all the difference for the champions, who cast aside the basement boys in prolific style! Be sure to stay with Goal.com for more breaking match reports and ratings of the players on show today! I'm Livio Caferoglu and I wish you all a very pleasant evening. Arrivederci!
90' + 1'
Goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic
THREE GOALS AND THREE POINTS! Milan secure the win as El Shaaraway ignites an attack, before laying the ball off to Ibrahimovic, who gives it back to the youngster. He then audaciously tries to lob Ujkani, but more uncertain goalkeeping puts the rebound on a plate for the Swede, who coolly flicks the ball into the net!
Gemiti finds the ball at his feet near the Milan D, but Amelia goes down low to gather his speculative attempt.
Merkel's introduction should see out the win for Milan, as he looks to add more composure and calmness to his side's midfield.
Gemiti puts his first potentially dangerous ball into the box, and it causes all sorts of problems for the visitors as Silva is forced to clear over his bar! However, it is ruled offside by the referee as Caracciolo appears to have made his run too early.
Novara cannot regain possession, as Nocerino curls another effort at Ujkani but it is high, wide, but not at all handsome.
Milan need to move the ball quicker in the future! A four-versus-two situation happens on the edge of Novara's box, but it ends with El Shaarawy dragging his attempt wide of the target after Ibra was too indecisive with the ball at his feet.
Novara attempt to hit back as first Rigoni tries to break into the Milan box, but Emanuelson is equal, before Morganella whips a ball inside, but Amelia clutches convincingly.
Novara are beginning to lose their rag now as Rinaudo now collects a yellow card for a kick on the back of Ibrahimovic.
Yellow Card Massimo Ambrosini
Ujkani was shown a yellow card for dissent to the referee over the decision to allow Nocerino's goal by the way. Meanwhile, Ambrosini concedes a pointless foul in the middle of the park.
Yellow Card Samir Ujkani
Assist Stephan El Shaarawy
DUE ZERO A MILAN!!!! Nocerino drills a low cross into the path of El Shaarawy, who then touches the ball onto Robinho, and the Brazilian caps a superb second half performance by sliding into an empty net! Novara are unhappy however, as the Italy midfielder seemed to have handballed the original pass.
EL SHAARAWY!!! And he really should have made it 2-0 to Milan. Robinho finds himself en route to the home side's goal in the middle, with plenty of space, before finding the forward in the box, but his finish is horrible as he skews over from close range!
Some uncertain officiating as Marianini seems to have fairly won the ball with a high foot off Robinho, but the Brazilian claims to have been hurt by the challenge. Nevertheless Novara win a free kick and Caracciolo is found, albeit in an offside position.
Yellow Card Francesco Marianini
Indecision in the Milan box, as Ambrosini is forced to hack the ball away for a throw-in after being deserted of any options to pass to! They must maintain their concentration for a further 20 minutes plus injury time if they are to hold out for the three points.
Nocerino is frustrated as he goes in for a 50-50 with Rinaudo near the hosts' goal, but is penalised for appearing to put too much pressure on his ex-Palermo team-mate.
Mascara has failed to deliver for Novara thus far, as again his corner attempt fails to beat the first man. Disappointing from the former Napoli man!
Intricate play from Milan!! Ambrosini slips Robinho through one on one with Ujkani, but rather than easily going down, he gets past the onrushing goalkeeper, but it is eventually cleared by a blue shirt for a corner.
Tesser brings on Marianini and Rubinho with the hope of salvaging something to show for their efforts. Will the trainer, who guided his team to two successive promotions be rewarded for his attacking approach?
Robinho looks to have been given one hell of a kick up the backside at half time by Allegri, as he is looking more and more hungry as the game wears on! Again he zips in and around the left flank, before working the ball to Ambrosini. However, the midfielder brings the attack to an end thanks to an intervention from Centurioni.
Silva is as composed as ever amid pressure from Mascara, as he calmly smothers the ball for Amelia to collect in his own 18-yard area.
Assist Massimo Ambrosini
Goal Zlatan Ibrahimovic
IBRACADABRA IS IN WITH THE GOALS AGAIN!!! Novara's defensive line is badly caught out as Ambrosini picks out the Swede with an inch-perfect lob pass, and the hitman hits the ball on the half-volley with Ujkani well beaten! Nine in his last nine games now!
Yellow Card Simone Pesce
Ibrahimovic tries an extremely speculative attempt at the Novara goal with a free kick from distance, but his low attempt is blocked off. Meanwhile, Silva's deep cross finds Ambrosini at the far post, but his header goes over the bar!
Robinho again leads a sweeping counterattack, but his cross is poor as it fails to reach Ibrahimovic, but Ujkani instead! Novara try to attack once more but it breaks down as Nocerino and Emanuelson look to whip the ball into the box.. to no avail however!
El Shaarawy again is involved in the action, but he cannot quite get the ball under control. He seems to have been a welcome boost to Milan's forward play, which struggled for imagination in the early periods.
A surprisingly quick attack is initiated between Robinho and Van Bommel, but the Brazilian forward's ball is not good enough and goes off for a corner. The Dutchman looks reenergised in his second half!
OOOH! Robinho again shows some silky skill against Morganella, as he proceeds to pick out El Shaarawy with a pinpoint cross, but the youngster can't guide his header on target! Rigoni again tries to infiltrate Milan's goal, but he slips and his shot goes way over.
Emanuelson tries to find the substitute around the left hand side of the box.. BUT STRAIGHT AFTER Novara almost score on the break as Rigoni surges into the Milan half and finds Caracciolo, who then takes on Mexes, but his curling finish needs Amelia to push the ball wide for a corner!
Stephan El Shaarawy
And El Shaarawy replaces Luca Antonini, which should also see Emanuelson drop to his usual left-back spot! The second half is now underway.
Morganella, who continues to impress me, leaves Nocerino for dead down the right flank, but his cutback comes off Silva for a corner... the set-piece doesn't find a fellow blue shirt and it's a stalemate going into half-time! Catch me in 15 minutes for LIVE coverage of the second!
90 seconds of normal time to play in this enthralling first half of proceedings in Piedmont. Again Milan have no qualms in keeping the ball, but are struggling to pick out an incisive through ball. Kudos to Novara!
Ambrosini picks out Ibrahimovic beautifully near the D, but his curling shot is blocked and danger is averted. Abate has another bite of the cherry, but his deep cross is saved by Ujkani.
Nocerino earns his team a corner, as Rinaudo shepherds his heavy first touch off the field of play, but Mexes' powerful shot sees Ujkani in no-mans land, and requires Caracciolo again to clear the ball off the line!
Ambrosini puts in a wonderful sliding tackle to dispossess Rigoni, who tries to circumvent Milan's backline. Van Bommel, straight after, wins a free kick in the middle of the park, but his subsequent long pass fails to find Robinho, and it rolls off for a goal kick.
Ibrahimovic, out of nowhere, rifles a shot at Ujkani from some distance, but the 'keeper does well to parry the ball away for a corner... which proves futile! Ambrosini, in a separate phase of play, unsuccessfully tries to find the forward in the box.
WHAT A TURN FROM NOCERINO!! And inches away from a quite stunning goal! Ibrahimovic plays the midfielder in, who then superbly turns away from Centurioni, but his curling shot goes just a whisker wide!
Pesce and Porcari get into good positions down the wide areas, but they just cannot find the right cross or killer pass in dangerous positions!
Some lovely footwork from Robinho, who starts off a promising attack in the middle of the park, and Van Bommel's ball into Ibrahimovic is well held up by the Swede near the goal, but no-one can get a shot in!
Robinho is furious as he is penalised for handball, despite being closely watched by Morganella. The free kick however isn't the best, as it's shepherded out by Mexes.
Meanwhile, Chievo go 2-0 up against Lecce thanks to former Milan starlet Alberto Paloschi... AND IBRAHIMOVIC COMES CLOSE YET AGAIN!! Nocerino charges down the left flank and puts in a tantalising ball into his team-mates path, but his low shot is parried away and then collected by Ujkani!
CLOSE AGAIN!! Novara are rocking as Caracciolo is forced to clear Silva's header off the line! The successive corner ends up in the hands of a relieved Ujkani, but only after a melee in his side's box!
Unconvincing goalkeeping but nevertheless it's a Milan corner as the Swede powers a another low strike at goal, but Ujkani struggles to gather the ball.
Ibra stands over the ball once more from 30 yards out, dead central to goal...
Yellow Card Giuseppe Mascara
Sort it out Robi!!! The Brazilian does superbly well to shift the ball onto his left foot after successfully taking on Rigoni on the edge of the box, but his shot ends up going off the field of play for a Novara throw! Meanwhile another free kick is won by Milan - Mascara is shown a yellow card for bringing down Ambrosini.
This time it's Emanuelson to capitalise from Ibra's unmatched vision, but his left-footed strike is well shut out! Novara then try and hit Milan on the break, but Mascara hesitates for too long as he struggles to find options in his vicinity, and the ball goes out for a throw.
Novara hold a very good line of defence as Ibrahimovic appears to have played through Nocerino, but the linesman raises his flag for offside!
BACK WITH A BANG... ALMOST! Van Bommel smashes a stinging shot from around 30 yards out, albeit with all the time in the world to take aim, but it floats just wide!
Caracciolo's again given a bit of exposure but for the wrong reasons, as firstly his shot at Amelia goes wayward, before fouling Antonini. Meanwhile Ibra again tries the lob pass, this time into the path of Nocerino, but Centurioni does well to read the forward's ball.
CLOSE!!!!!! The Swede fires a low attempt at the bottom left corner but Ujkani does well to dive to his right! Robinho almost nets from the rebound from a tight angle, but the ex-Palermo shot stopper is again equal!
And it's Ibra who prepares to step up.....
Milan are happy enough to play the ball in and around their own half, but calmyly make their way into the hosts' box.. before Ambrosini slips and loses possession! But it's back with the Rossoneri as Robinho wins a free-kick in a dangerous position - it's a Centurioni handball from the Brazilian's strike.
And just as I say that.. Morganella whips a good cross which meets the head of an onrushing Rigoni, but he cannot quite divert his header at goal!
Mexes finds Abate down the right flank, but Ujkani easily gathers his cross into the danger zone. An ominous start from the champions, as Novara are struggling to get anywhere near their opponents' box!
Ibrahimovic starts and almost ends a phase of play, as he spreads the ball out to Emanuelson, before getting it back off the Dutchman, but his visionary scoop into Robinho's path isn't strong enough!
OOOH! Ibrahimovic finds himself hugging the touchline inside the area, but his low ball into Nocerino's path is well smothered by the mask-wearing Ujkani!
Robinho tries to make amends, as touches the ball exquisitively to Antonini on the edge of the box, but the full-backs low cross is hacked away!
Novara win a couple of free kicks in quick succession, but they amount to nothing as Nocerino tries to hit back by playing Robinho through, but he falls down with the slighest of touches.
And the match is underway, as Novara prepare to get their first scalp over Milan in 59 years! The hosts immediately win a free kick but it's won back in equal measure by the Rossoneri.
It's a sell-out crowd here in Piedmont today, as both sets of teams make their way onto the pitch. Home debuts are handed to Leandro Rinaudo and Andrea Caracciolo, but there is no such luck for Djamel Mesbah!
Interestingly, the most potent attack in Serie A prepares to face the weakest defence in the league in just five minutes time! As ever, be sure to tweet me all of your messages and views about the game via Twitter @livmc.
With 10 minutes to until kick-off, let's analyse both teams' chances ahead of the match! Today's venue will be on a plastic pitch - make your own judgement! Also, with Milan's alarming lack of options, Novara are sure to be confident of their chances, but the quality still in the visitors' XI remains as impressive as ever.
And the champions AC Milan: Amelia; Abate, Mexes, Thiago Silva, Antonini; Ambrosini, Van Bommel, Nocerino; Emanuelson; Ibrahimovic, Robinho.
The hosts Novara will look something like this: Ujkani; Morganella, Rinaudo, Centurioni, Garcia, Gemiti; Porcari, Pesce, Rigoni; Mascara, Caracciolo.
Hello and welcome to your Sunday Serie A fix here on Goal.com, LIVE at the Stadio Silvio Piola! I'm Livio Caferoglu and I'll be guiding you through the match between Novara and AC Milan. You may remember me from the other night, as I also oversaw the exciting Coppa Italia meeting between the two sides on Wednesday! Team news is coming up.
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